Hunter Valley rail network shuts for major three-day maintenance works

Thursday 14 May 2020

 Safety first as Hunter Valley rail network shuts for major three-day maintenance works.

  • Major maintenance work will take place throughout the network in the Hunter Valley next week, extending from Kooragang Island in Newcastle to Narrabri and Ulan regions.
  • The three-day shutdown is required for maintenance personnel to gain safe access to the track, delivering projects to ensure a safe, reliable network.
  • Rigorous controls will stay in place to minimise the risks of COVID-19 exposure to the community and workers involved in the maintenance shutdown.


The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will carry out a major maintenance shutdown of the Hunter Valley Network from Kooragang Island in Newcastle to Narrabri and Ulan.

From May 19-22, around 1000 workers will conduct over 120 separate maintenance jobs including:

  • Removing and replacing almost 19 kilometres of rail
  • Ballast cleaning four kilometres of track
  • Reconditioning of two kilometres of track
  • Routine maintenance and various other major upgrades

 A key part of this shutdown for ARTC is the use of a new Loram grinder to improve rail performance.

ARTC Group Executive Hunter Valley Wayne Johnson said the 200-metre-long grinder, which has been in use since February, is a great addition to the maintenance shutdown program.

“It is an amazing piece of machinery, one of the largest and most efficient in the world in fact, certainly the largest rail grinder in the Southern Hemisphere,” Mr Johnson said.

“On a heavy haul network such as the Hunter Valley, over time the top of the rail wears down over time due to the forces of the trains,” he said.

“The grinder keeps the rail infrastructure in the best shape possible, removing the fatigued metal layer, extending the life of the rail and the train wheels whilst reducing noise for our nearby neighbours and saving fuel in the train running”.

Mr Johnson said the work requires a total rail movement shutdown for work to be carried out as safely as possible.

“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have a number of mitigations in place to minimise potential risks to the community and the workers involved in the Hunter Valley maintenance shutdown,” he said.

“The shutdown in April saw a reduction in the scope of work of the maintenance program due to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and with the practices controls we’re back to running at our usual capacity.”

 “We need to carry out the scheduled shutdown to allow us to access the track for maintenance and upgrades that cannot be done safely when trains are running.”

“The work will generally start at 6.30am on Tuesday, May 19 and is expected to be completed about 6.30am on Friday May 22.

“We thank our customers, community and motorists across the network for their patience while we carry out this important planned maintenance program”.

Alternative bus services will be provided for impacted passenger services, and details and schedules can be found at the Transport for NSW website.

Media contact:
ARTC media team 1300 196 401

 Link to images and footage of grinder launching next week on the Hunter Valley network:

Grinder footage 1

Grinder footage 2

Shutdown imagery

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